New Words for Worship Part 25: Challenging Text Changes

New Words for Worship Part 25: Challenging Text Changes
Here are some more new texts in the revised Missal that present challenges and will need explanation:
1. Several of the new prefaces include this:
“Through him the Angels praise your majesty, Dominions adore and Powers tremble before you.
Heaven and the Virtues of heaven and the blessed Seraphim worship together with exultation.”

As one priest said, “I know about Angels, Dominions, Powers and Seraphim, but what or who are the Virtues?” My trusty Dictionary of the Christian Church reveals that Dionysius arranged the angelic orders in three hierarchies containing three choirs each: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones; Dominations, Virtues and Powers; Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

2. The new Preface VIII of the Sundays in Ordinary Time reads:
“For when your children were far off on account of sin,
through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit,
you gathered them again to yourself,
that a people, formed as one by the unity of the Trinity,
made the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit,
might to the praise of your manifold wisdom be manifest as the Church.”

This will need to be proclaimed very carefully lest (a) “through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit” be heard as belonging to the word “sin” immediately before it rather than to the verb “gathered” which comes after it, (b) the core “a people .. might .. be manifest as the Church “gets lost among the jumble of secondary phrases and clauses surrounding these key words.

3. The revised Preface I of Holy Martyrs is:
“For the blood of your blessed Martyr N., poured out like Christ's to glorify your name,
shows forth your marvellous works, by which in our weakness you perfect your power …”.

I have tried valiantly to unpack “by which in our weakness you perfect your power”. I think it means
“his/her death reveals your power shining through our human weakness” - oops, that’s the present translation!

4. The phrase “for our sake he opened his arms on the cross” in the current Missal has been replaced by “he stretched out his hands as he endured his Passion” in the revised version. To me “stretched out his hands” evokes images of somebody begging or grasping, not the total self-surrender conjured up by “he opened his arms on the cross”.

5. In Eucharistic Prayer II “Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy” has now become “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall”. The smooth flow of the original has been shattered by the insertion of “therefore” and “we pray”. The word “dewfall” is not used in Australian English. I know it appears in the hymn “Morning has Broken”, but that was written over 80 years ago and language has changed a lot since then.

6. In Eucharistic Prayer III “Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have left this world in your friendship” has been changed to “To our departed brothers and sisters
and to all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your kingdom”. To me “give kind admittance to your kingdom” is not a shadow on “welcome into your kingdom”. We often admit people into our lives and homes out of a sense of obligation without necessarily “welcoming” their presence!


Elizabeth Harrington